Lavielle: I am not an ALEC member

Gail Lavielle
Gail Lavielle

NORWALK, Conn. – State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) responded Monday to comments tying her to the controversial conservative political group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a mostly corporate-funded group, according to several online sources, that writes model legislation that is sent to members nationwide to adapt to their states.

The ALEC website states, “One of ALEC’s greatest strengths is the public-private partnership. ALEC provides the private sector with an unparalleled opportunity to have its voice heard, and its perspective appreciated, by the legislative members.”

Lavielle has been tied to ALEC on two liberal group websites, Common Cause and Sourcewatch, although Sourcewatch updated its site Monday after being contact by Lavielle.

At her request, ALEC sent Lavielle a letter via email dated May 29 stating she is not listed as a member. A copy of the letter is attached at the end of this report.

The two-term state rep is running for reelection in November. Democrat Keith Rodgerson, a former Bridgeport City Councilman who moved to Wilton about a year ago, has announced he will challenge Lavielle. The district covers parts of Norwalk, Wilton and Westport.

Given her denial of membership, NancyOnNorwalk asked Lavielle to explain why Sourcewatch listed her as an ALEC member, and why she was listed among participant in an Education Task Force meeting held in 2011. Her response:

Many members of my House caucus belong to ALEC. I don’t.

I did, however, once attend an ALEC meeting in New Orleans, in August of 2011, along with quite a number of my caucus colleagues, several of whom were longstanding members. It was after the end of my first legislative session, and during the slow days of August, this seemed like a good opportunity to explore an organization where I could learn something that would help me do my job better.

I was quickly disappointed. It was a several-day conference. I attended one plenary session and one Education meeting. I found it singularly non-useful for anything I might want to do to serve my constituents. So I did two things:

  • I spent the rest of the day browsing in the French Quarter.
  • I got up the next morning and took a plane to Houston to see my parents.

And I never had any further interaction with the organization.

I presume that my attendance at the meeting is what accounts for my being on the list.

One important point. Legislators who attend ALEC conferences may ask for reimbursement of their travel and hotel expenses. I did not. I paid my own expenses and that was that. (I believe I also paid $100 to attend the meeting.)

I actually don’t know a lot about ALEC. What I noticed in the Education meeting, however, was that the situations and school systems being discussed didn’t bear any resemblance to those in Connecticut. Most people seemed to be from Western or Midwestern states. Connecticut, and New England, are quite different. I didn’t see how I could possibly apply the concepts. I like to use my time wisely, and I could think of many other ways to do that.

I have made it a point to look into other legislative organizations as well when I have had the time. I have attended conferences held by the National Federation of Women Legislators, and those have occasionally been useful regarding subjects like teen dating violence. I have also attended a Women in Government conference. I hope one day to attend a meeting of the Council of State Governments and of the National Conference of State Legislators, but they have never occurred at a time when I could go.





21 responses to “Lavielle: I am not an ALEC member”

  1. EastNorwalkChick

    This headline reminds me of the “I am not a witch” commercial….

  2. Oyster

    This is a surprisingly benign description of ALEC. ALEC is known for writing model legislation to push a 50 state end run around nationally unpopular policies and spending and lobbying locally to promote corporate friendly legislation, including attempts to meddle with third grade education programs. Several corporate entities withdrew from ALEC (Coca Cola Pepsi Kraft Foods Intuit McDonalds.)

  3. EveT

    For a blue state, CT has a surprising number of legislators affiliated with ALEC, notably DebraLee Hovey (Monroe/Newtown) and John Piscopo (Litchfield et al.). Nonpartisan organizations advocating for ethics and transparency in government have asked for ALEC’s tax exempt status to be investigated because they say ALEC is actually a lobbying organization, pushing for laws that will benefit its corporate members.

  4. Milton

    Thanks for the clarification Gail.

    Now I think it is time for the Rodgerson campaign to focus on explaining what they would do for the 143rd and Connecticut rather than the mud slinging, and baseless nasty attacks.

  5. Donald J

    This is less about Wal Mart and ALEC and more about Professor Lavielle’s credibility. It is hard to believe that as a Wal Mart executive in 2005 she knew nothing of the funneling of millions to ALEC for ‘Stand your Ground.” She hid her last job at Wal Mart from the public since she moved back to Wilton in 2007 to run for the Board of Finance with the ink still wet on her MBA. After holding “executive leadership positions in Fortune 500 corporations” she knew nothing of their main lobbying arm? Wal Mart was an active member since 1993 even going so far during Ms. Lavielle’s employment to chair the Public Safety committee. Can this sloganeering spinster just stop for two seconds and tell the truth about anything?

  6. LWitherspoon

    Let’s do right by Sen. Joseph McCarthy and ask the question this way: “Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of ALEC?”
    We should all be suspicious of campaigns who try to discredit their political opponents on the basis of membership in some organization or other. Remember when George Bush made a big issue out of the fact that Michael Dukakis was a “Card carrying member of the ACLU”? Many gasped at the horror, despite having next to no knowledge of the ACLU.

  7. Lisa Thomson

    Mr. Rodgerson would do well to tell the voters what he intends to do if elected…not try to discredit Ms. Lavielle. Gail has fought hard for Norwalk and Wilton – in a one-party state that seems to think Norwalk is flush with cash. High taxes and no jobs in Connecticut, except for municipal or state employees. Somehow, I don’t think that model is sustainable. Mr. Rogerson’s Bridgeport legacy frightens me as much as anything that ALEC might represent.

  8. Chris

    What am I missing here? Challenger Rodgerson tried to make hay by claiming that Lavielle was a member of ALEC. Lavielle produces a letter saying that she is not a member of ALEC, and a logical explanation of how she ended up on an ALEC list. So case closed right, and let’s all get back to work and focus on important things. Makes me think Challenger Rodgerson has a very thin resume he’s trying to hide…

  9. One and Done.

    Are carpetbaggers the new state Democrat party trend?
    This guy and Watts should provide the papers and blogs several juicy headlines in the next few months.
    One and Done.

  10. Casey Smith

    @ One & Done –

    Did anyone think to ask Mr. Rodgerson about the rumor regarding a little punch fest he had with Bridgeport City Council Member James Holloway back in the day?

  11. Donald J

    “I am not a crook…”

  12. Mr. Ludlow

    As a newly elected House member, Lavielle left a conference her caucus members (i.e., the House bosses who decide her committees) thought would be good for her to attend. She thought otherwise and left.
    That’s political courage.
    The fact that she went to visit her parents is just the icing on the cake.
    A good person with principles and a love of family.

  13. Thomas P

    This is Connecticut politics at its worst,from strategy, to execution. Representative Lavielle is one of the most logical and intelligent orators in Hartford. On virtually any topic,she is the ultimate voice of reason. This is strategic demoratic initiative to “try” in some pathetic manner to put her on the defensive. Similarly to Hillary Clinton who moved to NY to become a “senator” in the past, Mr Rodgerson has moved from Bridgeport to Wilton with the sole purpose of “negating” MrsLavielle” positive contributions. If I didnt know better, I would say its an intentional “predictable” strategy from the demorcatic party. To me, sickening to say the least. Representative Lavielle I believe is one of the greatest proponents of whatisnot right wing,but of what is right. A woman for all of usto be proud of.

  14. Oyster

    Yes, Casey,
    if you want to know, you should call Mr. Rodgerson yourself. That way you’d know you are misrepresenting an assault on Mr. Rodgerson in which he was the victim.

  15. Ida K.

    Gail is the original carpetbagger. Check her residency history. As for leaving the conference to see her parents — it sounds like a good cover story. Why go to an ALEC conference at all? To benignly visit because your tea party friends are there? Again, doesn’t pass the smell test.

  16. Thomas P

    Carpetbagger defined in the context of this “discussion” A person who moves to a different location for the express(unimplied) purpose of running for office within a virtually imeasurable amount of time. Representative Laviell’s running for a position in Wilton had nothing to do with her move and was incidental. Lets all deflect some more in our counterproductive conversation shall we.

  17. Casey Smith

    Actually, Oyster, I’m acquainted with Mr. Rodgerson from his time on the Bpt. Council and heard at least two different versions of the story from eye witnesses. My reason for asking the question is simply if someone can question Ms. Lavalle’s non-membership in a group, someone should question Mr. Rodgerson’s actions at that particular council meeting.

  18. John Levin

    Gail Lavielle is intelligent and level headed. As a republican, she is exactly the legislator we need in Hartford to try to check the unbridled spending by the democratic controlled state government.

    Guess what, people? Every time Norwalk’s other state legislators trumpet bringing state money to the city (which seems to be all the time), that same exercise is repeated in every town and city in Connecticut, and each legislator views the job as trying to get the most money out of the state for their local district. This business model is a disaster for taxpayers and for the state. End it.

  19. One and Done.

    Let’s have a contest. Who can go the longest without revealing any real work experience? Watts or Rodgerson?
    I love how the communists keep painting this picture of the tea party as if it some big bogeyman. When, in fact, T(axed) E(nough) A(lready) plainly describes anyone who is fed up with the levels of taxation and who believes in freedom.
    As if being a communist (aka liberals) who wants to tax us to death and control and regulate all aspects of our lives is something noble, when in fact it is approaching slavery.
    Whatever the case may be, there are very clear differences in philosophies to chose from this fall.
    One and Done.

  20. Donald Jones

    I think that the important thing to note here is Gail’s patina of ignorance regarding ALEC: “this seemed like a good opportunity to explore an organization where I could learn something that would help me do my job better.” She was high-level PR for Philip Morris and the national spokesperson for Wal Mart…both key members and funders of ALEC. In the age of the internet and after 10 years of working high level jobs at ALEC corporations the professor isn’t that ignorant.

    Editor’s note: To clarify, Ms. Lavielle was never employed by Phillip Morris or its current owner, Altria. She was employed by Burson Marstellar, an independent corporate communications and marketing company. For a while, Ms. Lavielle was assigned to the Phillip Morris account for Burson Marstellar.

  21. Donald Jones

    Ms. Lavielle is spinning her role as Philip Morris’ central spin doctor. The truth will be told.

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